Submission: Boarding Houses Act 2012 review


The New South Wales Boarding Houses Act 2012 (the Act) has now been in operation for six years. Section 105 of the Act required the Ministers to review the Act and report to Parliament before November 2018, to determine whether its policy objectives remain valid and its terms remain appropriate.

Despite the delay, we are pleased that this review is now underway. The Tenants' Union of NSW (TUNSW) is the peak body representing the interests of renters in NSW, including residents and occupants of boarding houses in their various forms. We are an accredited Community Legal Centre specialising in New South Wales’ renting laws and the main resourcing body for the twenty Tenants’ Advice and Advocacy Services (TAASs) across the state. TUNSW and the TAASs have provided information, advice and advocacy to more than 2000 identified boarders and lodgers, in regions across New South Wales, since the Act commenced.

We have been involved in efforts for reform for residents since 1976. A brief timeline of reform is outlined on the next page. We consider the introduction of the Boarding Houses Act to have been a significant step, but very much a first step. Our recommendations here give government opportunity to take the next steps to ensure all who live in New South Wales have their right to safe, affordable homes realised.

Through our Boarding Houses Education Project, we:

  • distributed material on the Act directly to 487 boarding houses;
  • printed 3000 copies of a special Tenant News focusing on Boarding Houses. All 3000 were distributed; and
  • printed 25,000 business-card sized pamphlets detailing the rights granted by Occupancy Principles and available advice services. All 25,000 were distributed and demand so great that a further 5,000 were printed.

Our submission is based on the experiences reported to us directly by residents of boarding houses, the experiences of the Tenants’ Advice and Advncacy Services (some of whom have made their own
submissions) and our ongoing consultation with others working in the sector. It should also be read alongside our report Five years of the Boarding Houses Act 2012.

We participate in Newtown Neighbourhood Centre’s Boarding Houses Roundtable and highly value their experiences. We have had the opportunity to discuss this review, or see drafts of submissions, from
City Future Research Centre and Shelter NSW.

We also draw attention to People With Disabilities Australia’s submission. We endorse their submission and thoughts on assisted boarding houses.